Johnathan Thurston playing for the Maroons last year.
Johnathan Thurston playing for the Maroons last year. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Smith expecting Thurston to play in Origin I

EXPERIENCE has taught Queensland skipper Cameron Smith to expect Johnathan Thurston to overcome his shoulder injury in time for next week's State of Origin opener.

Thurston has been named as 18th man, with Bronco Anthony Milford named at five-eighth, and Smith says coach Kevin Walters has told players the veteran playmaker will be given right up until kick-off next Wednesday night to prove his fitness.

"I've played in probably three or four representative matches where JT's been in doubt and he's got up every time," Smith said.

"Even though he's named as 18th man I give him every chance.

"He's just such a resilient person that these type of things, it's like he challenges himself to get back and be right for the game.

"At this stage, it's highly unlikely but I think he's shown in the past that if there's a challenge involved he's going to be up for it."

Thurston has never missed a State of Origin match since his debut in 2005, playing 36 consecutive games and all 10 of Queensland's series victories over the past 11 years.

Smith said he would be confident in Thurston even if he doesn't train in the lead-up to the Suncorp Stadium clash.

"He's the best player in the game," he said.

"He hasn't got there on luck, he knows what to do.

"He came into the Test match a couple of weeks ago without playing for four weeks and he was one of the best players on the field.


Storm and Maroons player Cameron Smith.
Storm and Maroons player Cameron Smith. DAVE HUNT

"We're all sort of accustomed to him being out there and doing his thing.

"But Anthony is a fantastic player.

"He's been knocking on the door of Origin now for a few years, he's been in great form for the Broncos, so we've just got to get him in now with us and get him up to speed with what we need him to do for our side."

Blues coach Laurie Daley is also confident Thurston will play next week and said the superstar would be targeted if he did make the game at Suncorp Stadium.

"He'll be there for sure - no doubt," Daley said.

"He's one of the best competitors the game has seen and his durability is second to none. He prides himself on his toughness.

"He'll be there, we expect him to be there.

"Going into an Origin game with a crook shoulder, if he's not 100% he will be tested.

"We've made it quite clear that if he plays we'll have a crack at him, as we do every time he plays."

with The Daily Telegraph

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